How to get a 3 year old to fall asleep on her own? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > How to get a 3 year old to fall asleep on her own?
JanineRivera's Avatar JanineRivera 04:43 PM 09-13-2011

I am going to lose my mind.  I have 2 week old twins and a 3 year old.  I need her to be able to fall asleep at nap time on her own.  We have over the past few months slowly moved from laying with her to sitting on the end of her bed to sitting near the bed to sitting in the doorway to sitting in the hall and now I need to be able to sit in the living room just a few more feet away so I can take care of the twins but my dd just will not go for it.  She spent two hours fighting her nap today (she is still in her room and I am not sure she is going to nap at all).  I am not too proud of how I am going about this but will share so that I may get some insight.  After fighting this approach for some time, I told her if she doesn't stay in her bed I will put up the gate and then if she keeps screaming and crying I will close the hall door then after that continued I would close her door.  None of it helped her to actually stay put and take a nap.  I just can't sit with her for the 20 mins. it takes to get her to sleep.  I have two newborns to take care of.  What do I do?  Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!  I am soooo exhausted and feel that I may lose it soon.  Thank you in advance:)

Yuba_River's Avatar Yuba_River 12:33 AM 09-14-2011

Not sure I have great advice, but didn't want to read without responding. Huge hugs to you! I can only imagine how exhausted you must be. A few random thoughts:


--First of all, with new babies in the house, this may not be the time to work on a new skill like falling asleep on her own. It may just be too much for her and you. For us, and we only had one new baby, those first few weeks were just about survival--so don't feel bad about doing whatever it takes to make it through for right now! I see you've been working on this for a while, but with new babies it's so normal for things to regress quiet a bit for a while. It just wasn't worth it to us to push it until things settled a bit more.


--Instead of enforcing a nap-time, how about requiring a quiet time? Some kids do fall asleep during their quiet time, although mine never has. It does seem to eliminate some of the battle for some kids. Set the limits for quiet time however will work best--for example, she may get to choose a few toys to play with, but has to stay on her bed, or you could set her up with music or a book on tape to listen to and she has to stay in bed until the CD ends.


--If the issue is location, can you make her a nest in the living room to nap in, so she can be near you and the babies?


--I imagine this may be impossible with twins, but can you wait to do her nap until both babies are asleep and you may have a few minutes to sit with her? (I'm imagining you laughing hysterically at this idea--probably doesn't ever happen, right?)


--Again, not sure how this would work with twins, but when my baby was born I spent a lot of time with him in the moby, bouncing and swaying to keep him asleep while I read to my 3 year old, or paced in his room so he would fall asleep.


--My son did give up naps at 3. It was a bit hard at first, but made bedtime great and easy.


--When my baby was born, my son was super sensitive to anything that put more distance between me and him. The second I sat down to nurse, for example, he was all over me. This got easier with time, but it was tough in those early days.


Good luck to you! I'm sure it will only get easier. I hope you have some help. Those early weeks are so tough. Hang in there and be gentle with yourself.



CanBoo's Avatar CanBoo 10:16 AM 09-14-2011

Hugs mama. Sounds like my DD1.


Must be hard with twins.


DD1 only learned to fall asleep without us right there a couple months before her fourth birthday only. It was a long process where we went from nursing to sleep to laying with her. To promising to check back again and again, every 30 seconds or she'd freak out and that was such a step ahead for us...


Wasn't a good napper either. Quiet time worked for us some days. She did not fall asleep but it seemed to be resting her enough so that she can last until bedtime. Quiet time in our house means, I don't really care what you do, but you must stay on the couch/bed, quietly and let the other nappers nap, let mommy have some time to have a cup of coffee and knit a few rows. Listening to an audio book seems to be a winner. We have that recording of Charlotte's Web a friend gave us. A radioplay from the BBC. She knows it by heart, loves it and it provides us 90 minutes of a break.


Sometimes, offering to lay down in a special place in exchange of a good napping behavior also worked. Mommy/daddy's bed or the couch. If she whinned, talked, argued, etc, hen it was back in her own bed.


But really I also gave up on the idea of a nap on many days. As long as we could function and go through our day.


Good luck in finding your routine.

Snowflake777's Avatar Snowflake777 04:01 PM 09-14-2011

That sounds really stressful! hug2.gif


This may not be helpful, but does she need a nap that badly that it's worth the fight? I know all kids are different, but most 3 year olds I know have dropped their nap. Mine did over a year ago. I like the previous poster's suggestion of quiet time.


Good luck!

Peony's Avatar Peony 04:46 PM 09-14-2011

We dropped naps when DS1 was born and DD2 was still napping because she needed me to lay down with her. She wasn't ready not to have an adult be with her and I couldn't do it anymore. 

swd12422's Avatar swd12422 08:25 PM 09-14-2011

OMG, hugs to you! I'm one of those who hasn't BDTD (esp not with TWINS) but maybe this will help?


DS is 3.5 and dropped his nap about 4 months ago, but it was only for a few weeks. When he stopped sleeping, I decided *I* needed the quiet time, so that's what we did. The only way I could get him to be quiet and still for more than 3 minutes was TV. I know, I know, but I was tired (and I didn't even have a baby, much less TWO). Once he started learning to settle down, he'd fall asleep, and he started napping again. After a month or two of that, I decided I really didn't like him watching TV every day, and he was starting to not be able to settle down -- the TV was too stimulating. So then I went to QT and I'd lie down with him. Some days I'd find something else I needed to do and sent him in on his own, and he'd fall asleep. Now we're back to him needing me there to make sure he stays quiet and still (b/c if he doesn't he'll never sleep), and once he stops moving he's out within 2 minutes.


I know you can't stay with her right now, but maybe introduce something like a fort (a brilliant suggestion from someone else on this forum) or TV (short DVD so you can limit the time) or something else to keep her quiet while you tend to the twins enough to get at least one of them down, then you can go to her. In a few months, things will have changed again, and you can figure out a new way to juggle all of them, but I bet it will be much easier at that point. I hope some of this helps!